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Our shark rotator stopped working a few weeks ago. By removing the filter (and feeling like a she-woman while figuring out how to do so) it was clear why. The house a block over had borrowed it for a couple of days, and the shedding there was obviously a bit more intense than here.

Nothing a pair of fabric scissors can’t fix.

I wonder how many people don’t own vacuums? I’d never thought about this before, but I’d just written earlier in the week about buses and people and my senses were heightened to such things.

The doorbell rang. Chartrice was waiting there with a big “don’t look at me” smile. “Thankyou so much Mrs Britney, I’m trying not to cry.”

“Sister, what happened?”

“They downsized and I was one of the ones to go. But I’m hoping someone comes through. I just came from filling out applications online at the library.”

“I’m glad you called. Come rummage through these school supplies and get what you need for Shawn. I could only round up $60 for his uniforms (I’m wrestling with this as I say it. How true is it?). I know it won’t stretch far, but it’ll get you started. Are you still in the GED program?”

“Yes ma’am…GED classes…job…two kids (sweet smile). But I’m ready for school to start back up for all three of us!”

You are amazing, I want to say. You are my hero, how do you do it? That high school diploma must mean a heck of a lot to juggle this load.

“I can’t say thank you enough Mrs. Britney.” (Stop, I’m screaming on the inside, stoppppp. This feels weird. This is all yours anyway. Somebody from another part of town donated it for my neighbors, and you are one of them. I’m just the closet. Stop saying thank you.)

Chartrice is becoming my friend.

In this moment I feel awkward, I feel blessed, I feel selfish, I feel conflicted, I feel joyful. Ultimately–and the thing on which I choose to focus energy–I feel closer to her than I did before she rang the door bell. When I was just vacuuming. With the treasure that is a vacuum.

We get more than we give, here on this Friendship House corner. In this neighborhood. In our community.

I know, you’ve heard it before. It’s a well known phrase derived from the happenings of mission trips. But it’s more.

And it’s real. It is quite real. We get more.

We get friendships with people that make us better and keep us humble. We get perspective (something you can’t buy). We get humor. Oh my good Lord do we get humor. We get stories (the vehicle of hope). We get to feel needed and with purpose–something for which all humans hunger. We get to need others, and they get purpose. We get neighbors who watch out for our home. We get a network of on-lookers and name-knowers who keep us updated on the latest news. We get folks who sit on porches and holler at us as we walk our dogs. We get connectivity. We get to be shown that we too can survive, because someone else is making it. Because Chartrice is making it.

We get to be reminded that we can do so joyfully.

I lock the door behind her as she lugs a backpack of notebooks down the sidewalk to her car. I lean up against the glass of the door–in all of my feelings–and do a crowd scream in my head for Chartrice, who is working it out for her self and her own.

I’m glad to know you, you soldier, you. I think. I’m glad to have shared the moment, whatever it was. Whatever it meant.

Two weeks later, I’m back at the vacuum, and Chartrice is back at a job.

I dance a jig in response to her text and in response to all the more that we get to get in this life-together.



**Names have been changed to protect the friends and neighbors I love dearly.

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